Embraer's E190-E2 Cruises Through Joint Definition Phase

 - June 26, 2014, 4:18 PM
Embraer expects its E190-E2 to enter service before July 2018. (Image: Embraer)

Embraer’s preliminary design review of the E190-E2 at the end of May marked the completion of the project’s joint definition, the company announced on Tuesday. Embraer has also completed wind tunnel tests on the 106-seat jet, scheduled to enter commercial operations before July 2018. Development continues with the critical design review, meant to validate product maturity ahead of prototype production. Embraer has “flown” the aircraft through simulations to evaluate flight characteristics and accrue “virtual” flight time well before real first flight. Meanwhile, the 132-seat E195-E2, due to enter service in 2019, has entered joint definition.

After concluding concept studies in May, Embraer has also started preliminary studies (including aerodynamic wind tunnel tests) of the 88-passenger E175-E2, which it expects to enter service in 2020. The E175-E2 introduces an extra seat row and will feature wings and engines “optimized for [its] size, distinctly different from the configuration that was adopted for the E190-E2 and E195-E2,” said the manufacturer.

Advent of the E2 models has overtaken any plans for an E190/195 product improvement package recently introduced in the smaller E175. The market for an improved aircraft has been “so dynamic,” according to Embraer Commercial Aviation president and chief executive Paolo Cesar de Souza e Silva, that Embraer moved directly on to the E2. A PIP would not have come along before 2016, by which time E190-E2 availability would be only two years away, explained the official.

The E2 offers a limited amount of production commonality for Embraer, principally because the fuselage cross-section remains unchanged. However, the new wing and landing gear means Embraer will need to install some new tooling. Silva described a more than two-year transition period during which production of current E-Jet and new E2 variants will overlap as a “big challenge.”

Silva insisted that the Brazilian company does not want to compete against Airbus and Boeing in the mainstream 150-seat market. It aims instead to enable operators to “rightsize” their equipment to match local market capacity and timetable requirements. The manufacturer chose deliberately to re-engine and develop its current family rather than build a new 130- to 150-seat design. Nevertheless, in a high-density single-class configuration, the planned E195-E2 can seat up to 144 passengers, allowing it to compete directly against standard Airbus A319/A320s and Boeing 737-700s.

Silva says Embraer is talking to “a good number” of airlines but, with a firm-order backlog covering 400 aircraft, he declined to indicate how many memoranda of understanding, letters of intent, or other soft bookings account for additional E-Jet/E2 production. Asked specifically about the E190-E2, which Embraer calls a “new market developer,” Silva identified opportunities in Latin America, specifically naming Brazil as the third largest market with “a lot of room to grow” as more and more airports get built.

China also stands as a “huge” market in which the E190/195-E2 could open new routes or “rightsize” markets.

In North America, Silva said continuing demand for current Embraer models remains to be satisfied before the E2 series becomes available. Citing  “a huge need” to replace 50-passenger regional jets and older 70-seat machines in the U.S., he suggested that a demand for another 300 aircraft such as the E175 might materialize in the period up to 2018/2019.